A NASA team of engineers has been organized to design a crew return vehicle for returning International Space Station crew members from orbit. The hypersonic characteristics of this X-23/X-2&4 derived crew return vehicle (designated X-38) are being evaluated in various wind tunnels in support of this effort. Aerodynamic data has been acquired in three NASA hypersonic facilities at Mach 20, and Mach 6. Computational Fluid Dynamics tools have been applied at the appropriate wind tunnel conditions to make comparisons with portions of this data. Experimental data from the Mach 6 Air and CF4 facilities illustrate a net positive pitching moment increment due to density ratio, as well as increased elevon effectiveness. Chemical nonequilibrium computational fluid dynamics solutions at flight conditions reinforce this conclusion.
Nasa-centerJohnson Space Center; Langley Research Center